Penn State opened its 125th Season of football against the Mighty Sycamores of Indiana State. One kick. One man--Chaz Powell. 95 yard return. Cha-pow!
And just like that, Indiana State was uprooted and never had a chance. They did attempt a 42-yard field goal early in the second quarter which would have made it a 14-3 game, but the kick was wide right and the Sycamores did not score until 2:15 left in the fourth quarter against the Penn State back-ups.
The weather was great--perhaps too great. But my new seats were under the North Upper Deck, so at least I watched the game in the shade. The view is approximately the same view I had before I was ousted from SK, but from nearly the opposite side of the stadium.
I had the opportunity to meet fellow blogger and Penn State fan Carolyn Todd before the game at our tailgate. Her husband Terry has now attended 258 STRAIGHT PSU football games. Carolyn herself is on a streak of 122 games. They are great people and I hope to see them again some time. You can read her take on the game at View From The Stands.
Other than the fact that I have to walk more than halfway around the stadium to get to our seats, I really like where we ended up. Of course, looking out at all the empty seats and knowing that the University has not sold out the season tickets, I am more than a little disappointed in the STEP program. But I suppose it is making money, and that's what really matters, right?
Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot you can say about this game. It was really nothing more than a glorified scrimmage, and truth be told, we probably faced stiffer competition in the blue-white game, than we did this past Saturday.
Going into the game, I wondered if we would even hear Zombie Nation being played. That question was answered on the opening kick-off. Sweet Caroline debuted at the 8:20 mark.
What? You want me to actually talk about the GAME?
It was a game of ups and downs. You can lurk on any message board in Nittany Nation if you want to debate which quarterback did better and who should be starting next week. I don't really know. I think Bolden is probably the better athlete, but both quarterbacks had trouble with the Indiana State pressure, and that makes me worry about our offensive line more than the quarterbacks.
Obviously, the O-line has shown some improvement, at least in the running game. Or maybe that is because of Redd and Beachum. The full backs had a busy day.
Overall, the play calling was very conservative. We did throw downfield a little bit, and perhaps the receivers should have caught some balls that would have made Bolden's stats look better.
I give Indiana State credit for not giving up and fighting to the end. They really did put themselves in an emotional and score board hole with that opening kick-off return.
Our special teams are concerning. We missed two field goals and a PAT. A couple of kicks looked like my golf shots off the tee. The loss of Fera could be huge. And while we didn't give up any big returns, we did not pin ISU deep on kick-offs or punts.
But I am reluctant to translate this performance into a prediction for the rest of the season, much the same way as you can't predict the success of a team based on the blue-white scrimmage. I like the fact that the team came out fired up and rode the opening kick-off return momentum to a 14 point lead quickly. But the excitement can only last so long against an inferior opponent, and we fell into some sloppy play before taking a comfortable 28-0 lead into the half.
Quite frankly, I had trouble keeping focused on the game. I'm sure the players felt the same ennui. Against better competition, I hope the focus will stay better.
It has to, or this will be a long season.
BY THE NUMBERS:
I noted in RED the areas which seem to stick out. we outgained them just as you would expect. Should we have had more yards? More points? Perhaps. But you got the sense that there was no urgency after the opening scores. Don't equate lack of production with an inability to produce.
The defense played a solid game. Most of those 8 first downs were in the fourth quarter.
I am concerned with the number of sacks we gave up, and the kick stats as noted above. I shudder to think how things will be next week if we can't keep Alabama around or inside the twenty on kick-offs--assuming we kick off much next week.
The Drum Major stuck both flips.
Penn State won the toss and received.
Official attendance was 96,461. Kudos to those fans who came to this level of opponent.
THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:
Only Minnesota and Indiana failed to win their opening games.
Nebraska beat Chattanooga 40-7.
Ohio State knocked off Akron 42-0.
THEM beat Western Michigan 34-10.
Illinois topped Arkansas State 33-15.
Northwestern edged BC 24-17.
Purdue survived against Middle Tennessee State 27-24.
Iowa defeated Tenn Tech 34-7.
Wisconsin beat UNLV 51-17.
MSU beat YSU 28-6.
The Hoosiers lost to Ball State 27-20.
The Gophers lost to USC 19-17.
1. ND--over-rated again, the Irish lost to South Florida. God tried to stop the game twice with lightning, but even that couldn't help.
2. Oregon--thanks for playing.
3. TCU--ditto, and what a heart-wrenching loss after being down 47-23 to come back only to lose in the last 64 seconds on a FG, 50-48!
4. Georgia--lost to Boise State, but man, those Broncos are good.
5. Utah State--almost upset the defending National Chumps, but allowed Tigers to score with 30 seconds left to shatter the glass slipper, losing 42-38.
6. Oregon State--Beavers were App Stated by Sacramento State 29-28 in OT.
This is the Big One, Elizabeth. And Redd (Silas, not Redd Foxx) better have a great game.
Alabama is struggling at the QB position at the moment. I'm not going to argue about who has the better D. The stats suggest Bama does and let's let it at that. I think I saw the Tide opened as a 10 point favorite.
Penn State must be able to maintain field position. Force the Tide to go the distance to score on you. Minimize turn overs and hopefully create a couple. Both Bama Qbs threw 2 INTs against Kent State. Penn State needs to shut down the run and force them to pass, if they are going to have a chance in this game. The crowd needs to do its part to upset the rhythm of these young quarterbacks. It would be really helpful if we could score quickly.
The game is set for 3:30. It will be a WHITEHOUSE GAME. Wear white!